Like many of the people that do a great deal of their shopping and business online, I’m a major fan of payment services like PayPal and Neteller. I have never been a fan of using my credit card online. While I felt that the secure websites did in fact do a good job of protecting my information, I also wondered about the security measures employed by the merchant. Events such as my credit card company issuing replacement cards fairly often in order to protect against fraud convinced me that I was not being completely paranoid. Even with the new chip cards and encrypted card readers finally becoming a standard in the US, security is not as strong as it could be since US issuers do not require PINs to complete transactions. Services like PayPal and Neteller became preferred method of payment for online payments.
I THEN DISCOVERED BITCOIN.
I arrived at the Bitcoin party a bit late, so I have avoided some of the wild swings that the digital currency has undergone. However the fluctuations in the currency’s value have not hindered me from spending Bitcoin and from accepting Bitcoin as payment a couple of times.
Other than appealing to my desire to limit potential exposure to data hacks I enjoy the convenience and portability of Bitcoin. Science fiction movies have shown us a future where people paid for everything with a simple transfer of “credits” for decades, usually with little more than a few keystrokes, so the concept of digital currency is fairly familiar. The fact that international purchases did not require me to convert to dollars or pay a foreign exchange transaction fee was appealing.
NOTICING A SHIFT
The spread of Bitcoin acceptance is encouraging. I will admit that when I saw a commercial that noted that Overstock was accepting Bitcoin payment I was very pleased, even though I had never purchased anything from the site before. Previously the biggest Bitcoin “excitement” I had was when a guy that worked on my computer told me he took “Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Bitcoin.”
Grassroots movements seem to be the ones that have the best odds for long-term survival and success. This is how I view Bitcoin. The fact that you can have pizza delivered from Dominos with Bitcoin through Pizza for Coins is cool. However I was more impressed when I discovered that a Subway in Pennsylvania accepted Bitcoin at the counter and that a baker in San Francisco accepts Bitcoin for her cupcakes.
I see this sort of grassroots acceptance as one of the reasons that many major companies are at least testing the Bitcoin waters.
BLUE-CHIP COMPANIES TAKE THE LEAP
The fact that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will let you book a flight into space with Bitcoin should surprise few people. Branson has long been viewed as a visionary. In an interview with _Forbes _Branson said, _”Virgin Galactic is a company looking into the future, so is Bitcoin. So it makes sense we would offer Bitcoin as a way to pay for your journey to space.”_ Branson is also a Bitcoin investor.
What is more encouraging is the acceptance of Bitcoin by blue-chip companies such as Microsoft and Dell. A recent _Wired _article noted _”Irrespective of your opinion, the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies cannot be ignored. Today, there are a number of billion dollar businesses that accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. These include Dell, Reddit, Expedia, PayPal, and most recently, Microsoft. So for the uninitiated who have not yet grasped what Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are, you ought to catch up.” _Granted the companies accept Bitcoin through a middleman, but this is a first step toward direct payment.
CREDIT IMAGE SOURCE: POKERSTARS.COM
I was further encouraged during a recent trip to Las Vegas when I walked into the D Casino and discovered that they accepted Bitcoin in the casino for food and beverages (they are not yet accepted at the gaming tables). Shortly after my visit I saw this infographic from PokerStars Casino which lists the acceptance of Bitcoin as one of the growing casino trends:
Another positive event is the announcement by Neteller that they would allow account holders to fund their accounts with Bitcoin, thereby making it possible to purchase a wide range of goods, services, and memberships.
As I stated I’m a strong supporter of alternate payment methods. So instead of thinking I arrived late to the Bitcoin era, perhaps I should consider myself to be at the beginning of the currency’s “prime time” debut.